Khulna shrimp farmers who use semi-intensive system to cultivate Bagda prawn are facing financial losses due to abrupt fall of price.
According to local sources, farmers in Khulna, Satkhira and Bagerhat alleged buyers are reluctant to visit shrimp enclosures to make purchases directly from local fishermen although they used to do so in the past. So, fishermen are trying to bring shrimps to the markets in the district town and the doors of frozen food companies.
The price has declined by as much as Tk 500 per kilogramme of large sized bagda over the last two months in the face of declining demand in the major markets of the country for higher inflation, said farmers and shrimp processors and exporters.
Many farmers have been compelled to sell at a low price in the local market in a bid to narrow losses.
Moheswaripur union’s Md Taiyebur Rahman found self-reliance through semi-intensive bagda farming about three years ago. However, this year he has faced losses due to the sudden price fall of prawn.
Taiyebur was previously a small scale fish farmer and after learning about virus free specific pathogen free (SPF) sowing and semi-intensive prawn cultivation from the upazila fisheries office, he started bagda farming.
In 2019, he began cultivating bagda on 3 bighas of land and had made a good profit in the previous years.
“In June this year I released about 50,000 SPF prawn fries in the reservoir. They were meant to be harvested early October but I decided to delay due to the price fall,” he said, adding that he estimated the price would go back up again soon.
However, the long delay had cost him more as a good amount of bagda had died in the meantime.
Taiyebur went on to say that instead of the usual harvest of about 2,000 kg, he only got 1,313 kg bagda. He sold about Tk 9,45,360 worth of the prwan at the rate of Tk 720 per kg.
However, due to the increased production cost, he lost over Tk 50,000.
In response to a question he said semi-intensive shrimp farming is very profitable. More marine animals can be farmed in a smaller space using this system.
Four electric motors were installed in Taiyebur’s shrimp farm to maintain a proper oxygen flow. The perimeter of the enclosure is surrounded by netting for biosecurity. The reservoir has to be six feet deep and the banks strengthened.
Harmful substances free shrimp are in demand in other countries, making the industry a profitable one. However, recently the prices have fallen due to decreased exports, which led to farmers facing losses.
Koyra upazila Marine Fisheries Officer (SCMFP Project) Bidyut Biswas said eight farmers in the upazila are currently cultivating bagda using the semi-intensive method adding that this is profitable.
“The recent price fall due to the global recession had a negative impact on the farmers. We are always prepared to provide the farmers with training and advice if needed,” he added.
Shrimp cultivation has been the only source of income for tens of thousands of farmers in Khulna, Satkhira and Bagerhat for years.
According to sources, the fisheries department has trained 7,000 shrimp farmers in Khulna, Bagerhat, Satkhira, Jashore, and Gopalganj under the World Bank-supported Sustainable Coastal and Marine Project. It is providing shrimp fries and funds to 3,000 farmers.